(4) Texas vs. (5) Arizona
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(4) Texas Longhorns
In terms of talent the Oakland Golden Grizzlies were far from your typical 13 seed and they showed that against the Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns had a hard time putting them away, but ended up doing so by the slim margin of 85-81. Freshmen forward Tristan Thompson flirted with a triple-double, recording 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks – a Longhorns’ NCAA Tournament record. Junior forward Jordan Hamilton had a double-double himself with 19 points (8-17 FG) and 10 rebounds. Had it not been for the 21 points of J’Covan Brown off the bench, though, we could be talking about another huge upset. The Longhorns did a nice job of containing future-pro big man Keith Benson, but let Reggie Hamilton go off for a game-high 25 points. Cory Joseph once again struggled from the field and had three assists with two turnovers. He’s going to have to step it up against Arizona. His play will be critical as will Thompson’s against Arizona’s go-to man Derrick Williams.
(5) Arizona Wildcats
As far as individuals go there may not be a single better player in the NCAA tournament than Derrick Williams. His performance against the Memphis Tigers really helped his case for that honor as he was spectacular with 22 points, 10 rebounds and some clutch plays down the stretch to help secure the 77-75 victory. The Wildcats’ guards had a really tough game on both sides of the court as the Tigers’ guards regularly attacked them with success while watching them take some ill-advised shots offensively. They need to play smarter against the Longhorns and make sure Williams touches the ball just about every trip. Williams also has to make sure to stay out of foul trouble because if he’s not on the floor he’s going to watch Thompson have a field day from the bench. Without a big night from him the Wildcats’ chances of moving onto the Sweet 16 are slim.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Texas. The Longhorns are a really scary team to bet on because they can be so hot and cold. However, they’re not as reliant on one player like the Wildcats are and that’s why we’re taking Rick Barnes’ group.